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The Exiles Return

3.42 of 5 stars 3.42  ·  rating details  ·  226 ratings  ·  49 reviews
The Exiles Return is set in Occupied Vienna in 1954-5. It describes five people who grew up there before the war and have come back to see if they can re-establish the life they have lost.

The novel begins with Professor Kuno Adler, who is Jewish and fled Vienna after the Anschluss (the events of March 1938 when Hitler’s troops marched into Austria). He is returning from N...more
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published January 7th 2014 by Picador (first published March 11th 2013)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,695)
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Jane
A book that suits its dove-grey covers very well ...

I was intrigued by The Exiles Return as soon a I saw it written about, as a forthcoming Persephone Book last autumn. The authors name was familiar, because it was her grandson who wrote The Hare With Amber Eyes, a book that I think everyone in the world but me had read. But this was a book that hadn’t been read, though the author made every effort to get it into print.

And yet it holds a stories that have been little told. Stories of exiles retu...more
Ali
Persephone generally publishes books that have often enjoyed great success in the past, but have been out of print for a number of years. This is not the case with The Exiles Return. The author Elisabeth De Waal was the grandmother of Edmund De Waal who wrote the hugely successful The Hare with Amber Eyes – which I have not read – I think I might though now. It is solely through his efforts that Elisabeth’s book is now available. The manuscript of what became The Exiles Return Elisabeth De Waal...more
Amy
Loden--people really wore it back then. This book has some beautiful descriptions, of characters and of places, that kept me going through its slow development and awkward dialogue.

For example, there is an electrifying scene of one Austrian scientist named Krieger telling the (Jewish) scientist returned from exile about Krieger's wartime experiments on prisoners. Krieger points out that they were Roma, not Jews (he seems to think his audience will approve). He goes on about how these experiment...more
Juliet
I knew going into this that it was about several different people. But once I started reading and I totally got into Professor Adler's story, I forgot about that. When it switched to another character, I didn't want to leave Professor Adler. But after about a day of sulking, I picked up the book again and went back into it.

The style of writing may not suit today's taste for all action all the time, but I really enjoyed it. I felt like I got to know the characters inside and out, and I liked the...more
Claire McAlpine
She wrote 5 novels and long after her own death, thanks to the success of her grandson's award winning book Edmund De Waal's The Hare With Amber Eyes, we now get to read that most personal of all the stories she wrote, Elisabeth De Waal's The Exiles Return inspired by her own return from exile to Vienna after the war.

The return is never really the return, it might be another beginning, if one is fortunate, for other's it represents the end.

My complete review here at Word By Word.
Monica
The exiles are a group of people who have returned to Austria at the end of the Post War occupation - Adler, the Jewish scientist, leaving his wife who has become a successful entrepreneur in the US, Kanakis, the esthete heir of a wealthy Greek-Austrian family whose family astutely left Austria for America despite not really being threatened by the Nazis or the war, Risi, the daughter of a countess and her American husband, sent back to find herself in the company of her titled aunts, and Nina a...more
Nicholas Finch
Beautifully written and some wonderful moments and characters that served as microcosms into post-war Vienna. This being said, I have many bones to pick with this book. The narrative was engulfed into the upper-class and their post-war plight. Knowing Waal's background I can see why she told their (the upper-class) story but there was not even the slightest mention of anyone but those whom had wealth, at least not by name. There were some rich and vibrant characters but I felt that they were mor...more
Miriam Murcutt
The Exiles Return promises a lot but then fails to deliver on some fronts. The setting is Vienna in the early 1950s in the aftermath of World-War II - a disheveled, occupied city keen to recapture its illustrious past. The characters are a potent mix of those who fled from the Nazis, those who stayed and fought them and those who remained and co-operated with them. The publisher’s cover blurb talks the book up a storm, and the Foreword by the author’s grandson, Edmund de Waal, (author of the bea...more
Danagasta
as this is a recovered manuscript it holds up well. The subtleties of her writing was what I liked. Now the endings can seem trite but at the time in the 50's each character's end would have been unexpected. I really liked the beginning of the book. This was what I was expecting in reading Trieste but didn't get. It puts into intimate descriptive fiction so much of the 50's history as she experienced I believe.
Nicole Overmoyer
For me, as a lover of all things historical, wars are fascinating. As a lover of fiction, fiction based on reality, it's the aftermath of the war that's as fascinating as anything else.

This made the posthumous publication of Elisabeth de Waal's THE EXILES RETURN the perfect choice for me. The blurb on the back cover even proclaimed the book to be similar to one of the most moving books I've read about the effects of war on the average man; EVERY MAN DIES ALONE by Hans Fallada. I was hooked by th...more
Kate
I saw a review for this somewhere or other and it sounded interesting. It was, but having been written (I think) in the 1950's, it does have a dated feel. The exiles are a Jewish professor and the daughter of a Hapsburg princess who return from America to Austria during Allied occupation and restoration following World War II. The stories of the two are separate, though there is some overlap in people they meet. The character of the daughter was completely befuddling to me and not at all realist...more
Kris
3.5 stars -- closer to 4 than 3, so I'm rounding up.
Elle
I'm not sure the title was apt enough, as it's a bit misleading and adds a layer of significance that doesn't ever present itself. That said, it's a beautiful book in that it's well written, with interesting characters and plot projections, and since I had no idea I ought to try, I could not have guessed the ending, which came as a bit of a surprise. Moreover, it felt as though the story was done a third of the way through the book; I feel almost compelled to pick up the pen and finish the story...more
Erika Dreifus
Please see my review in The Washington Post.
Pascale
An enjoyable read, but the book doesn't deliver on its promises. What makes one interested in the characters is the fact that they find themselves in Vienna in 1954, just before the end of the occupation of Austria by the Four Powers. The setting being the major reason I felt drawn to this novel, I was sorry there wasn't more about daily life in those very peculiar circumstances. The double denouement is a bit too neat, with the good sister Nina delivering a bright future to the returning Jewish...more
Richard
Feb 24, 2014 Richard rated it 3 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: People interested in the times and culture.
Recommended to Richard by: I read a review and was interested in a 60 year old unpublished story.
Since this is one of several unpublished books by this author who lived from 1899 to 1991, she lived during the time of which she writes: 1938-1955.

I can see why it would not have met a receptive audience at that time, considering the major themes of the book: life in post-WW2 Austria, the Holocaust, homosexuality, pre-marital sex and suicide.

This is not so much a happy story, but the way Ms. de Wall weaves the characters' stories together is fascinating. Her command of the language is also quit...more
Trevor Pearson
Received a copy of The Exiles Return by Elisabeth de Wall through the First Reads Giveaway in exchange for an honest review

"Social relationships were at best superficial, they could be pleasant if treated lighthearted,
they could easily be hurtful if too much was expected of them."


For elder statesmen Kuno Adler and Theophil Kanakis their home of Vienna, Austria is definitely where the heart is. With respect to the young and impressionable New Yorker, Marie-Theres Larsen, she is still searching...more
Carol
I received this book for free in a Goodreads giveaway.

This novel is set in 1954-1955 Vienna, a place still recovering from WWII and just about to regain independent status again. It centers around three people who have come to or returned to the city for various reasons. Dr. Kuno Adler is both returning to his pre-war home and life and escaping from his increasingly stifling life in NYC. Theophil Kanakis is returning to re-establish himself as the scion of a wealthy and prominent Vienna family....more
Rosemary
‘The Exiles Return’ focuses on three people arriving in Vienna from the USA after the Second World War. Kuno Adler is a Jewish scientist claiming his right under the reparation agreement to be reinstated in his old job. Theophil Karakis is a hugely wealthy businessman of Greek ethnicity who left because there was more money to be made in the States but now wants to find the perfect house and surround himself with antiques in the city of his birth. Marie-Theres Larsen is the disaffected American-...more
Michelle Sharp
I've just reached the halfway point of The Exiles Return, it's okay. Mostly everything that happens in the stories is so mundane that it barely warrants mention. To some extent it's almost like Austria is the main character and each story serves to describe it from different angles.

Two beefs at 158 pages in--so far no one in the stories is French, has been to France, speaks French or anything that might explain why the author chose to throw in odd French phrases or number-words; the other beef i...more
Geranium Cat
I must be one of the few people who hasn't read The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal, though one of my reasons for not having done so has to be that it was written this century and I've been reading a lot from the last one. When I was asked if I'd be interested in reviewing one of the most recent Persephones, though, the description made me leap at the chance. It's a previously unpublished novel about five people returning to Vienna in the early 1950s, and there was every indication that i...more
Pat
I received a free copy of this book through the Good Reads First Reads giveaway.

This is an interesting and informative novel with quite a bit of historical detail. Some of the dialogue is brilliant, especially the confrontation between Professor Adler and Dr. Krieger demonstrating the ambivalent anti-Semitism in Vienna in the 1950's.

The ending chapters of the book are less appealing. Over all, I recommend this book.
Susan
An interesting read. The characters were not especially well-developed and always seemed at a distance from the reader, but they were beside the point. This novel is all about ambiance .... the atmosphere of postwar Austria, especially Vienna. The rich legacy of imperial Austria is vividly evoked, along with the Nazi contamination, as well as the peace and beauty of the Austrian countryside.
Ann
This book started out with promise with the story line of a scientist who was Jewish returning to his homeland of Austria after WWII and after a period of 15 years but the plot faltered as other characters were added to the mix and the book was rather confusing and not worthy of the time spent reading it. The author who revealed this book is the son of the original author and it was never published until after her death. The book is badly in need if a good editor and revision to become more read...more
Marty
When I began this novel, I didn't read the author bio on the back flap. After a few pages, I was delighted to find a new author whose style actually evoked/matched the period that they were writing about. Then I discovered that de Waal was writing in the 1950s. Oh well!

This was a delightful read. The three threads of the plot are woven effortlessly together. I especially enjoyed following Professor Adler's journey home to Austria after fleeing the country to avoid Nazi persecution and the death...more
Ann
I was fascinated by The Hare with Amber Eyes by Edmund de Waal. This book is a previously unpublished novel by de Waal's grandmother (1899-1991). It is a fascinating look at Vienna through the eyes of characters who return there after WWII. Although she sometimes lapses into melodrama, the author certainly gives the flavor of Viennese society, and many of the descriptions of the city and surrounding countryside are clearly told with love, as a partial reminisence of the author's pre-war life.
Betty
Started March 23. Somewhat confusing, but tells of people returning to Vienna 15 years after they left due to WWII. Vienna is still a partitioned city. Social life is a mix of people who stayed, those who have returned and people from the occupying nations. What values matter is in flux.
Mjtg

An okay story about a Jew who returns to Vienna after WWII, a story that interested ME because that

is the story of my husband's family.

Elisabeth de Waal, however, in this book at least, does not exhibit the talent of her father.
Susan
Interesting book about a young American/Danish/Austrian girl's return to Vienna, the city of her mother's birth, several years after the end of WW II. Marie-Therese (described as a "brooding" teenager) is aimless at home and sent to meet her mother's sisters. I had some trouble with the character as she seemed unaccountably aimless and even dull - tho described as very beautiful she seemed to have no character at all. However, several characters are wonderfully alive in the interesting but uneve...more
(a)lyss(a)
I got a copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads Program.

From the beginning I was struck by how beautiful the writing was and the display of literary grace. The story sucked me in as it followed the personal tragedies of several characters that had complex stories that came together so well.It's poetic and haunting.It is also a fairly short book that is definitely worth the read.
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Elisabeth de Waal was born in Vienna in 1899, the eldest child of Viktor von Ephrussi, of the banking family, and Baroness Emmy Schey von Koromla. She was educated at home and at a leading boys' school, studied philosophy, law and economics at the University of Vienna, and when only 19 gave a paper at the first of Ludwig von Mises's legendary Private Seminars on economics. She completed her doctor...more
More about Elisabeth de Waal...
Donnerstags bei Kanakis: Roman

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